Using integrated communications to find light at the end of the dark funnel: Three ways to make sense of the dark funnel

Using integrated communications to find light at the end of the dark funnel: Three ways to make sense of the dark funnel

Using integrated communications to find light at the end of the dark funnel: Three ways to make sense of the dark funnel

By Tom Buttle, President, London

Is the dark funnel another hype term?

The dark funnel has emerged as a key focus for decision-makers to find hidden touchpoints and influences that sit outside standard KPIs. While last-click attribution is a staple of digital marketing, we know the reality of customer journeys and influence is more complex.

Businesses today need to appreciate the complexity of their audiences’ decision-making process that sits outside the traditional marketing funnel such as:

  • blogs from vendors, thought leaders and peers.
  • Social media packed with community discussions
  • Individual influencer channels
  • WhatsApp chats, Zoom calls, and good old-fashioned coffee meet-ups

The critical part is that a brand cannot meaningfully track all of this. They know insights from behaviors are happening and can sometimes predict decision-making, but only have a limited snapshot of that reality. As purchasing decision-making becomes more complex u2013 both for consumers and B2B customers u2013 the influence of the dark funnel can be profound. It can decide the financial fate of many organisations, and those who approach it sensibly will create a competitive advantage in how they connect with and influence their audiences.

How can brands react to the dark funnel?

There are many things you can do to start making sense of the dark funnel in your sales cycle. Here are three key steps we see having impact amongst our own client base:

  1. Focus less on your brand and more on who your customers are- most organisations have invested time and resources into creating audience personas, but they are often not well-researched, outdated in assumptions that don’t actually reflect how their business converts a sale. By tearing up the rule book on your existing personas and re-examining who and how your business makes sales, you can bring fresh insights and improved relevance to your go to market strategy.
  2. Social proof and perceived value are your new KPIs- successful dark funnel marketing requires you to think outside the box of traditional promotional and measurement tactics u2013 so have fun with it! This is an opportunity for exploring creative strategies that use social proof to influence your customers’ decisions. Social proof can elevate when people are more likely to trust and follow the actions of others. By showcasing positive reviews and testimonials from satisfied customers, you can create a sense of trust and credibility that can lead to more conversions. Another idea is to use scarcity and urgency tactics as part of your dark funnel marketing strategy. By creating a sense of urgency or scarcity around your products or services, you can encourage customers to act or make a purchase. This can be done through limited-time offers, countdown timers, or even showing the number of products left in stock.
  3. Influence what’s influencing them– the media landscape is more engrossing, multifaceted, and polarising than ever before. It’s impossible to influence every platform your audiences will visit. But with the right insights you can focus on the ones with the greatest impact with surround-sound-going beyond the primary content to engage with the comments and communities where its resonating. By realising efforts towards these ‘feeders’ for the dark funnel, you can load the deck in your favour for those untracked and offline conversations.

The dark funnel creates possibilities for data-centric marketers who are used to trusting last click attribution metrics to expand their understanding of how to reach customers. Without relying solely on metrics, marketers can take a more experimental approach and try out new tactics without worrying about immediate results. This can lead to more creative campaigns and potentially even more effective strategies in the long run. However, it’s important to strike a balance between creativity and measurement to ensure that campaigns are still driving real results and meeting business objectives.

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